Sunday, July 18, 2010

Paper park, paper council

It has been 1 year, 6 months and 12 days since President George W. Bush created the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument. The declaration signed all those days ago mandated that a five-person advisory council be created three months after the declaration. That council still hasn't been created.

The Marianas Variety reports:
NONE of the supposed CNMI representatives to the advisory council for the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument whom Gov. Benigno R. Fitial nominated last year have been appointed.

Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council member Benigno M. Sablan, who is one of the nominees, said their names were submitted in Jan. 2009.

“We don’t deserve this kind of treatment,” he told the Variety.

Aside from Sablan, the other nominees are Fish and Wildlife Director Sylvan Igisomar and Senior Policy Advisor Dr. John Joyner, who replaced the original nominee and former Wespac advisory panel member Joaquin Villagomez.
First of all, Governor Fitial doesn't get to nominate any individuals to the advisory council. He only gets to make recommendations. Nominations and recommendations are completely different things.

The declaration reads:
The Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce, within 3 months of the date of this proclamation and after considering recommendations from the Governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall establish the Mariana Monument Advisory Council to provide advice and recommendations on the development of management plans and management of the monument. [emphasis mine]
I agree that the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce should consider Governor Fitial's recommendations (after all, they are required by law to do so), but they should also take into account the recommendations of other people who have a stake in the monument's management. For example, I think that someone from the Legislature should be on the council. It would also be appropriate to have a scientist or a cultural expert on the council.

I'd also like to see a conservation-oriented, rather than a commercial fishing-oriented, person on the council. Although the governor has described Sablan, Igisomar and Joyner as the “champions of reasonable, practical and meaningful conservation efforts and practices," I think most people can read between the lines to understand the intention of the words "reasonable" and "practical" in this case. For those of you who can't read between the lines, you can read the Division of Fish & Wildlife's official monument website, Marianas Conservation.

no pew monumentOr perhaps you're more of a visual person? There's (from left to right) Joyner and Igisomar with John Gonzales, Jack Villagomez and Frank Rabualiman.

It makes me wonder if perhaps the real reason the monument advisory panel has not been created is because the people who have been recommended to be a part of it have made public their intention to destroy the monument, to negate the monument, to open the monument back up to commercial fishing. Maybe the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce are waiting for recommendations who are champions of "science-based" and "community-supported" conservation, instead?

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